Filipino cuisine is a colorful blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and even Indian influences. Most meals are served with a wide selection of condiments and dipping sauces, often laid out in little bowls or dishes, so each person can fully customize the meal to his or her heart’s content.

One of my favorite condiments is achara, or Philippine-style pickles. Different regions of the country have their own versions of achara, using different vegetables and slightly different pickling liquids. I prefer the kind of achara served in Aristocrat restaurants—a crunchy, sweet and tangy version using green papaya. And so when my mom mentioned that our family recipe for achara was just like that, I got excited. In fact, I think I might have looked forward to the achara a wee bit more than the Filipino chicken barbecue, because I asked Tom to hunt down a green papaya for me a full two weeks before my planned grilling date. Continue reading Achara

The first step to finding your path and your voice

Alternate title: There’s more to this blogging thing than my corny jokes. Really, there is.

Last Thursday, I attended TECHmunchNYC with fellow blogger Maggy Anderson of ThreeManyCooks. I have to mention her because if not for her prompting, my dorky intimidated-by-strangers self likely wouldn’t have gone. And I’m so glad I did. It was a day packed with panels that had me scribbling down notes, trying to get as much as I could from the day-long event.

I was also trying not to think about the cupcakes in the snack room. Continue reading The first step to finding your path and your voice

A big batch of biscotti, and a small dose of self-discovery

I’ve been making biscotti at home, double batches at a time because they disappear so quickly. Along with classic granola and wickedly delicious mini whole wheat pumpkin muffins, these are so far my favorite healthy breakfast or snack recipes from The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great by the wonderful Pam Anderson. Continue reading A big batch of biscotti, and a small dose of self-discovery

Walking around my backyard

Two years ago, finally tired of always losing the precious bounty of our fruit trees to wandering animals, we finally put a fence around a good portion of our backyard. We had three fruit trees—an apple tree and two pear trees—but cordoned off an area large enough to accommodate four more fruit trees and three large raised vegetable beds. Then we planted fig, giant peach, nectarine, and apricot trees. In the newly-built vegetable beds, we planted tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries, sweet peppers, different varieties of hot peppers, and a bunch of herbs. I felt so … organic. And I was filled with hope for a season of homegrown produce. Continue reading Walking around my backyard

Gin and Tonic Sorbet (You heard me)

Alternate title: Oh, Look At What I Done Did.

Some weeks ago, Pam and Maggy of Three Many Cooks invited me and my family over for dinner. Maggy and I had been exchanging emails for some weeks, and really hit it off online. But normally, my shyness would have made me less ready to accept the invitation. More often than not, I’m perfectly happy staying in the background, letting typed-out words do the socializing for me. This time though, I said yes. Continue reading Gin and Tonic Sorbet (You heard me)

Mini Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

Do you know what happens when you fail to keep up with your commitment to having a healthy breakfast every morning? Not only does your metabolism start slowing down again, but you end up letting too much time pass in between posts.

I have clinical studies to back that up. (Okay. Study. Clinical study.)

But I refuse to take full responsibility for it. After all, I had every intention of sticking to it. I scheduled a few hours every weekend when I would make myself a batch each of my new favorite granola, biscotti, and these mini whole wheat pumpkin muffins. All of them are from Pam Anderson’s book The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, and I’m mildly obsessed with them. And okay, I threw the “mildly” in there just to make myself look good. Continue reading Mini Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

Kalbi Beef Salad

One disadvantage of being the only female in the house is that it’s quite difficult to campaign for main dish salads as dinner fare. It’s not that it’s impossible, because I’ve done it before. But there’s always the chance that the salad just wasn’t filling enough, and then they end up having cheese-and-hot-sauce sandwiches for dessert. (It’s happened.)

But Tom just re-built our grill, and was excited to use it. So I figured this was my chance to plan a main dish salad with something grilled. In my mind, I imagined a nice Asian salmon salad, and figured I could serve it with some sushi rice on the side to help boost the full-ness factor. Continue reading Kalbi Beef Salad

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